October 29, 2004 – November 4, 2017
“$10. Lab puppy. To good home only.”
That was the ad in the classified section of the newspaper. My husband wanted a large dog, so he picked this ad. When we arrived, we were greeted by something that resembled more of a greyhound runt mix than a Labrador Retriever. The woman explained that her friends were going to put the pup to sleep because they thought it would be too big for their apartment. My husband was ticked that it was a small dog, but we couldn’t just leave her there.
We picked her up at a house just off Hildebrand Avenue, so we named her Hildy. She was long and lanky like Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina, so that explains her middle name.
Hildy grew up hearing my husband tell her almost daily, “Girl, you ain’t got no Lab in you. But we love you.”
For the first six months of her life, Hildy would get so excited when we got home from work that she’d run into the garage, honking like a goose and then she’d piddle on the garage floor. Has anyone ever been so excited to see you that they pee?!? She eventually grew out of that phase, but I missed it.
Hildy didn’t bark for the first couple of years, which led us to believe that she was some type of Basenji mix – an African hunting dog that made sounds, but didn’t bark. Her black nose turned pink and her pink tongue had black spots. “Hildy, you ain’t got no Lab in you. But we love you.”
Here’s a description that we left for a friend of ours who watched her back in July:
“I’ll be 13 years old in October. Sometimes my hind legs drag a bit or they give out momentarily because I have arthritis in them. But I still like to run and play in the water if you spray the hose low to the ground.
When people are around, I like to assert my dominance over my little sister. I’ll growl at her, pounce on her head, wrestle her to the ground, or bite her ears. I’m not trying to hurt her; I just like to show her who the boss is.
I like to give love nips. I’m not trying to bite you. I just like a lot of attention. I enjoy belly rubs, but I really like face massages. I make funny high-pitched sounds for no particular reason. My mommy and daddy say that I’m “high strung” (a line from the movie Tombstone).”
Hildy was a lover and a fighter. She liked to sneak onto the furniture and curl up with you. She was also one tough girl who on two different occasions won a battle with a copperhead snake. Incident #1 led to her nickname “rotty girl” because the flesh around the bite on her leg left quite a scar. Incident #2 led to one of my husband’s beer brews being called “Hildy’s Baadaasssss! Wheat Beer” because she survived a snakebite in the face.
She had slowed down over the last 18 months because her rear joints were wearing down, but she still chased after birds and barked at them until she felt they were far enough away. And she continued to chase water from the hose until just a few days before….
Hildy, you ain’t got no Lab in you. But we love you. And we will miss you.
If you know any dog owners whose pet was diagnosed with cancer, feel free to share our “lessons learned” with them.